Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Is it a health mistake not to drink?

Is it a health mistake not to drink?

Q. I started drinking half a glass of red wine in the early evening, particularly Pinot Noir since it's said to have a higher than normal concentration of resveratrol, generally adding blueberry juice to fill the glass. But I had to stop because I didn't like the wine's effect on me — slight problems with motor coordination, grogginess, and sleepiness. Should I be worried that so little alcohol had such a strong effect on me? Am I making a mistake by abandoning the use of alcohol, given its reputed health benefits?

A. Drinking moderate amounts of any type of alcoholic beverage — one drink a day for women, and up to two a day for men — does seem to lower the risk for heart disease and the most common type of stroke. Some doctors say that certain alcoholic drinks — red wine often comes up — are more heart-healthy than others because they contain more antioxidants like the resveratrol you mentioned. I'm not convinced, though, that any one type of alcohol-containing drink is superior to the others.

Moderation is the watchword here. Alcohol in greater amounts can cause many health problems, some related to the heart. For instance, it can weaken the heart muscle and help trigger abnormal heart rhythms.

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